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Youngsters welcome the return of gymnastics classes

News Photo by James Andersen Young gymnasts work their way across balance beams during an Intro to Gymnastics class on Wednesday at the APlex. Gymnasts are encouraged to practice social distancing measures during class and different event stations have markers spaced apart so kids know where to stand or sit.

The enthusiasm within Alpena Gymnastics is hard to miss these days.

The program’s numbers are down slightly and safety protocols have increased, but there’s still plenty of excitement from the nearly 200 youth gymnasts participating.

That’s just what Alpena Gymnastics founder Buffy Storey was hoping to see after students recently returned to the APlex for fall classes after being suspended in the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“They were so happy to be back here and wanted to do their very best and to be back into an organized activity,” Storey said.

Alpena Gymnastics is just one group that’s keeping the APlex busy this fall. Thunder Bay Martial Arts recently resumed fall classes there and youth tennis classes and pickle ball play are also taking place.

News Photo by James Andersen Instructor Karli Myers helps a young gymnast on the bars during an Intro to Gymnastics class on Wednesday at the APlex.

Storey said the program typically sees around 300 students during the fall, but, though that number has dipped a little bit, the program is still running a full schedule, from toddlers to competitive girls teams.

Programs like gymnastics have been happily welcomed by instructors, students, and parents alike after those activities were suspended in the spring. The return of classes has allowed students to participate in activities, be around friends, and get back to something familiar.

“We all feel very thankful,” Storey said. “I think the parents are thankful and the kids seem so happy. As a matter of fact, when they first got back, we just were so impressed at their behavior. They just wanted to get the kids around other kids and get some exercise in an organized activity.”

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, youth activities have amped up safety measures and Alpena Gymnastics is no exception. Kids must wear a mask entering and leaving the APlex, as well as when they enter the gym. Kids are allowed to participate in classes without a mask if their parents are OK with it. Instructors like Storey lower their masks to give instructions to their gymnasts, but have them on while they are demonstrating different skills.

During Wednesday’s Intro to Gymnastics class, markers were placed on the floor at each event station to encourage students to continue practicing social distancing. For stations like the bar and the balance beam, markers show students where to stand or sit as they wait their turn.

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena Gymnastics founder Buffy Storey works with a young gymnast on a tumbling exercise during an Intro to Gymnastics class on Wednesday at the APlex. Classes recently resumed for the fall and about 200 students are participating.

It’s a different setup, but there were plenty of smiles and laughter as young gymnasts took their turns balancing on beams, tumbling on the mats, and giving rope-climbing a shot.

All of the equipment in the gym is cleaned after every class by Alpena Gymnastics employees and is also professionally cleaned twice a week.

“I think the gym is actually healthier than it’s ever been before,” Storey said.

Anyone interested in signing their child or children up for gymnastics can visit AlpenaGym.com, find more information at the front desk of the APlex, or contact Storey at 255-7124.

News Photo by James Andersen Young gymnasts work their way across balance beams during an Intro to Gymnastics class on Wednesday at the APlex. Gymnasts are encouraged to practice social distancing measures during class and different event stations have markers spaced apart so kids know where to stand or sit.

News Photo by James Andersen A young gymnast climbs a rope during an Intro to Gymnastics class on Wednesday at the APlex.

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